How to run an effective performance review

A performance review is an informal one-to-one meeting where you and your employee sit down to discuss how they think they are performing, and how you think they are performing.

Back to: Managing people

The performance review usually happens several times a year, often quarterly. By the time you get to the review, you will already have worked with each employee to develop their objectives. The performance review is an opportunity to review how they are achieving, or sometimes not achieving, those objectives.

At the end of the review, you agree on what actions you both need to take to help the employee continue to improve and develop their skills and knowledge.

Here is an overview of a performance review process:

Tips for the review meeting

  • Make sure you and the employee have both prepared for the meeting by each rating their performance
  • Make sure the review takes place in a comfortable, private place where you won’t be disturbed
  • Turn your mobile off! And ask your employee to do the same
  • Allow up to an hour for the review meeting, and select a time when neither of you is under pressure
  • The meeting should be informal but business-like
  • Work for understanding rather than complete agreement – you can agree to disagree
  • At the end of the meeting, summarise the outcomes

Reviewing performance

  • It is important to have a balanced view of both the positive and negative when reviewing performance
  • Be sure to support your reviews with some specific examples
  • Be careful of what is on your mind when reviewing performance - there is a tendency, for example, to let one recent incident overshadow the bigger picture, or to let an overall positive performance mask areas where improvement is still needed.

Discussing and recording problems

  • If you have any ongoing concerns about either performance or behaviour, record this in a performance review form. If there is a dispute later on, there needs to be clear evidence that the issue was repeatedly raised with the employee.
  • However, problems and issues should never be raised for the first time in a performance review. Great employers operate on the basis of “no surprises”. Regular feedback throughout the year ensures that staff already have a clear idea themselves of how they are performing – the performance review simply consolidates this.
  • During the performance review meeting, summarise the problem to date and focus on what both parties can do to improve the employee’s performance going forward.

Useful links

Learn how to engage and motivate your staff

Find out about how to set objectives